1. General guidelines and principles
1.1 The procedures that follow must be read in association with the Staff Gifts and Benefits – Managerial Policy and relevant directives and procedures contained in the University’s Financial Management Practices Manual.
1.2 The University and its staff are placed in a position of trust and should act in ways which maintain public confidence in the University. Consequently, it is not appropriate for staff to be offered, to accept, or to give gifts and benefits that affect, may be likely to affect, or could reasonably be perceived to affect, the performance of their duties.
1.3 The first consideration must always be whether a gift or benefit is appropriate to accept. There are two major considerations:
- why was the offer made
- the public perception of acceptance
Staff should discuss these issues with their supervisor to ensure appropriate approval is obtained prior to a decision about whether to accept a gift or benefit.
1.4 In no circumstances should staff:
- Ask for or encourage the giving of any form of gift or benefit in connection with the performance of their official duties.
- Accept any gift or money or benefit by way of loans and the like for any duties performed or not performed. This includes items which are readily converted into cash such as lottery tickets or shares.
- Accept any gift or benefit which could create a conflict of interest or be perceived to create such a conflict. Examples of such personal benefits creating conflict of interest situations are:
- A staff member responsible for purchasing consumables receives a gift from a sales representative of a supplier company.
- An academic manager is asked to audit the performance of a research project in which they have been an investigator or participant.
1.5 In exceptional circumstances, such as an award which involves a cash prize, express approval must be obtained from the relevant member of Executive (Vice-Chancellor and President, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor or Chief Operating Officer), for an employee to accept such a gift, subject to the other provisions of the Policy and the associated Procedures. This includes consideration of the appropriateness of the accepting the gift and the requirement to report the gift for inclusion in the Gifts Register.
1.6 Where a series of gifts and/or benefits are given to the same recipient in a financial year, the series of gifts or benefits must be treated as if they were a single item of the cumulative value.
2. Conflicts of interest
2.1 It is important that conflict of interest situations, once recognised, are declared and resolved in a way which promotes propriety and integrity.
2.2 Consequently a staff member facing a conflict of interest situation (whether actual, potential or perceived) must notify their supervisor. Merely declaring the conflict situation without taking steps to resolve the situation will almost always be insufficient.
An example of resolving the conflict is:
- A staff member responsible for purchasing consumables, and who receives a gift from a supplier, complies rigidly with the University’s policy on gifts and benefits.
3. Nominal gifts or benefits
3.1 A nominal gift or benefit is one with a fair market value of less than $150. Examples include but are not limited to entertainment, hospitality, a bottle of wine, flowers or chocolates.
3.2 A staff member may, of course, give or accept an occasional gift of nominal value which is offered in accordance with social or cultural practice, for instance, when a staff member retires or leaves the University or visits another University overseas.
3.3 Staff must advise their supervisor of the circumstances and details of a nominal gift. Nominal gifts are the property of the University. However, at the discretion of the Cost Centre Manager permission may be given for a staff member to retain the gift or benefit.
4. Significant gifts or benefits
4.1 A significant gift or benefit is one with a fair market value between $150 and $350. Examples include but are not limited to ornaments, works of art or jewellery.
4.2 While significant gifts are the property of the University, at the discretion of the Cost Centre Manager permission may be given for a staff member to retain the gift. However, significant gifts must be reported to the Chief Operating Officer for recording in the Reportable Gift Register within 14 days of receipt.
4.3 In respect to the provision of speaking services at a conference by a staff member, it is possible that a significant gift may be received as a gesture of thanks or in lieu of speaker fees. Under such circumstances, GST consequences may arise and therefore specific advice should be obtained from the Director, Financial Services.
5. Reportable gifts or benefits
5.1 A reportable gift or benefit is one with a fair market value of over $350.
5.2 Reportable gifts are the property of the University and must be declared to the Chief Operating Officer within 14 days for recording in the gifts register. However, at the discretion of the relevant member of Executive, permission may be given for the staff member to purchase the gift or benefit by paying to the University the difference between the fair value of the reportable gift and the reportable gift threshold (currently $350). In all cases, gifts of cultural or historical value must remain the property of the University and cannot be purchased by a staff member.
5.3 In the case of a reportable gift received during overseas travel, a declaration must be submitted within 14 days of the recipient’s return to the University.
5.4 Where a staff member receives more than one gift from the same donor in a financial year (1 January to 31 December), and the current market value of all gifts is greater than $350, then all the gifts are considered to be reportable gifts.
5.5 In respect to the provision of speaking services at a conference by a staff member, it is possible that a reportable gift may be received as a gesture of thanks or in lieu of speaker fees. Under such circumstances, GST consequences may arise and therefore specific advice should be obtained from the Director, Financial Services.
6. Corporate gifts
6.1 In certain cases it may be appropriate for staff to provide corporate gifts to individuals or organisations on behalf of the University. Examples of such cases may include:
- presentation to sponsors of events
- presentation to artists in appreciation of their work
- presentation to overseas dignitaries or delegations visiting the University
- presentation by staff when travelling overseas on official University business
6.2 The practice of giving gifts should not be common or frequent in occurrence and all gift giving must be approved by the Cost Centre Manager prior to their purchase, and all such gifts recorded in the reportable gifts register.
6.3 Where a staff member makes more than one reportable gift to the same recipient in a financial year (1 January to 31 December), and the current market value of all gifts is greater than $350, then all the gifts are considered to be reportable gifts.
6.4 The Reportable Gifts Register is maintained by the Chief Operating Officer and records:
- details of the gift or benefit
- the parties involved
- in the case of reportable gifts made, the approval given
- in the case of reportable gifts received, the location of the gift
6.5 The Reportable Gifts Register will be regularly monitored by the Chief Operating Officer to identify any trends, problems or patterns that may cause concern and need corrective action.
Guidelines for Declaration and Retention of Gifts and Benefits (Staff access only via MyUSC)
Useful Decision-Making Guide (Staff access only via MyUSC)
Staff Gifts and Benefits Declaration Form
(For gifts received by Employee or Given by University with a value exceeding $150)
Staff access only via MyUSC https://my.usc.edu.au/working-at-usc/finance-and-procurement/policy/staff-gifts-and-benefits